(Bloomberg Business) — In lieu of higher salaries, employers are offering plusher benefits packages to attract and retain talent, a new survey suggests.
In a report on more than 450 employers surveyed by the Society of Human Resource Management, 35 percent cited bigger benefits packages, compared to 28 percent the year before. A small chunk of those asked — 7 percent — noted a reduction, but that’s down from 9 percent the year earlier.
The survey also noted the rise of such new benefits as company-provided fitness trackers, egg-freezing, group fitness, and student loan repayment programs.
The more attractive vacation and wellness offerings come at the expense of salary increases, as wages remain stagnant. The survey suggested that employees are promoting that trend. “Research has shown that many job seekers frequently place greater importance on health care coverage, flexible work schedules and other benefits rather than on their base salaries,” the report said.
Indeed, research, including an oft- cited Ernst and Young survey has shown that workers, especially the coveted millennial segment, prize flexibility.
But most research, including SHRM’s own findings, have found that higher pay still trumps flexibility and other young person workplace demands, such as working at a mission-based company with a fun culture. From the Ernst and Young survey:
“After competitive pay and benefits, the top things employees say are very important in a potential job are: ‘being able to work flexibly and still be on track for promotion; which was tied at 74 percent with ‘working with colleagues, including my boss, who support my efforts to work flexibly.’”
A 2014 study by Survey Monkey found that millennials ranked pay as the most important factor in a job, above meaningful work and flexible hours. SHRM in 2014 found that 60 percent of employees surveyed rated compensation as “very important,” making it the top contributor to overall employee job satisfaction, up from the No. 3 spot in 2012.